Guest Blogger: Xin Chen
I have come to the U.S. for about six months and finished my first semester in a graduate accounting program. I can’t stop myself from comparing my U.S. school to my undergraduate school in China.
The main difference I think is when asking a question in class. Professors here always ask if you have any questions, and students will ask questions they can’t understand and even some questions that seem unrelated to the main topic. Sometimes students just interrupt the professor’s lecture and express their opinions. In my undergraduate school in China, students seldom ask questions during the course. If students do have a problem they will ask professor after class. Interruption of the professor’s lecture is a rare condition. For most of the time, the professor is the only person who speaks in class. At the beginning of my first semester here, I just couldn’t’ understand the other students’ behaviors and thought they were acting sort of rude to the professor. But now, I know this is just the U.S. classroom culture and the professor is very happy to answer students’ questions.
Another difference is the use of supplemental class material and discussion online with the class and the professor. In my home country, the only material used is generally just class notes or slides. Because there is only one test for each course at the end of each semester, students seldom log on to their accounts except when reviewing for the exam. In the U.S. class, the professor always mentions the supplemental class material online, so students log in to their online accounts frequently to get material. And the time of each lecture and professor’s office hours is limited. If students have problems, they could ask questions through their online discussion board. In my opinion, it’s much more convenient than asking during a lecture.
Another difference I found is you can easily get involved in an organization and act as a volunteer for a program on a U.S. campus. This is different from volunteer activities in China, which are mainly concentrated on serving at big national events such as Beijing Olympic Games and Shanghai Expo. Volunteer activities in the U.S. are driven by peoples’ motivation of helping each other and paying more attention to peoples’ daily lives by doing simple acts of care in local communities. In the U.S., no matter how rich you are or how famous you are, everyone involved in volunteer activities is treated equally as hospitable participants who will deliver maximum help.